Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wacky Weather, Signature Plants, and Phenology Findings

January Thaw
 We are experiencing some topsy-turvy January weather across the USA, with warm weather where it should be cold and cold where it should be warm. In my Northeast PA garden, snow has thawed and fallen from tree branches and roofs. I can see patches of green on the lawn and in the fields and MUD everywhere. It's foggy this morning as all that snow evaporates. A January thaw here is not unusual, but there are record high temperatures up and down the eastern seaboard, and record cold temperatures on the western side of the country. This comes as NOAA scientists issue their report stating 2012 was the warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous U.S. You can read the report if you click here.

English Bluebells - my first Signature Plant

The report comes as no surprise to gardeners. Following a non-existent winter and with a record warm spring, my confused spring plants bloomed early -- check out my 2012 March Madness posting.  West Nile virus hit early, and the PA Breeding Bird Census shows several birds expanded their ranges northward. As Diane Husic, leader of the Eastern PA Phenology project says, "The times they are a changing ..."

(Remember to click on words colored red to go to the links.)

What will 2013 bring? We are already experiencing strange phenomena in the plant world with reports of cherry blossoms in Washington DC -- in January? Wow!  The Eastern PA Phenology Project blog gives a full report here - a must read!

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)
My blog has played a small part in the project since March 2011. Read Phenology: My New Favorite Science if it's new to you. I am excited to report whatever phenomena 2013 will bring to my small corner of the world.

Creeping phlox subulata

I have illustrated this posting with twelve plants I chose for the 'Dozen for Diana' meme. These are 'must-have' plants for my garden if I was starting over. I chose a groundcover (creeping phlox), a vine (clematis), a shrub (rose), a grass (zebra grass), an annual (zinnia), two trees (black walnut and cherry), and three perennials (purple cone flower, daylily, and hellebore.) I thought about seasonal interest and color.

David Austin Rose Rosa "Lichfield Angel"

On the whole, I am happy with my choices, but if I did it over I would definitely pick more native plants.

Hemerocallis Daylily 'Chicago Apache'
Diana, who lives and gardens in South Africa,  has a brand new blog to go along with her new home. She has moved her Dozen for Diana meme to the new blog, Elephants Eye at False Bay. Do check it out to follow how Diana is planning her new garden. Many of you are familiar with her old blog, Elephants Eye. I love her new one -- do check it out.

Milkweed, Asclepias, is the host plant for Monarch butterflies.


Cherry blossom

Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus.' Zebra grass

Hellebore Helleborus sp

Clematis 'Tie Dye'

As I said in my last posting, 2012 was a good year in my garden, in spite of the wacky weather. I know all my U.S. gardening friends experienced extremes, as did gardeners all around the world. This year is already promising to be another unusual one with unprecedented weather conditions.  Bring it on -- we gardeners are ready!

Happy Gardening!
Pamela x

Walnut Trees, here and in the lead picture above.

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  1. You showed us a lovely choice of plants! What concerns the weather: here in Western Europe weather changes from week to week. Last week all looked very promising in the garden with 10 degr. C. Now it's icy cold with 4 degr. Below zero. Such a shame for my winter flowering shrubs. May be we can skate coming week!

  2. Hi Pam, thanks for sharing the links in your post. Very interesting reads. We are having a significant cold snap here in the PNW. Many of my fellow gardeners with plants pushing the range of our zones are quite concerned. Cheers, Jenni

  3. Here in the Uk we apparently had the second wettest year since records began (whenever that was). It has indeed been very wet although some plants have thrived especially after a fairly dryish 2011 and 2012 spring.

    I think we assume that our weather will follow a predictable pattern but it seems to me the more I read about our weather over the centuries that the weather we have follows a long cycle. I read somewhere that we had similar weather to now in the 18th century.

    It is quite interesting and I like most of the challenges it brings to me as a gardener

  4. Hello Pam, so good to visit you again. Your post is so very interesting and I love your plant choices. Our weather has been a little more 'normal' than last winter so far, though we did just have a forty degree day this weekend which is a tad early for a January thaw date. At least we've had some significant snow cover up until Saturday. Now it's bitterly cold, which is very normal for January. I'm hoping for more snow soon.

    I must plant more hellebores in the gardens, they are so lovely. So good to see your gorgeous photos, makes me feel like spring is not so very far off.

  5. We had a very mild start to 2013 and all the bulbs planted in containers in autumn have already poked their noses through the compost, though they may be getting a shock now as the weather has changed. It's got much colder this last week, and as I look out of my window now, snow is falling. I hope we don't get much.

  6. The weather has been very strange so far this winter. I'm curious to see what spring/summer will bring. Looking forward to reading more about it here.

  7. Today has been our first really hot day. The cats spent it sprawled on the slate tiled verandah, catching any cool breeze that was going. Love to see your Dozen gathered together in a bouquet!

  8. Watching the local weather tonight got me thinking of last season's unexpected drought. We too are losing our snow cover fast and no more snow is in the forecast this month. Lack of cover is bad for plants but no precipitation could lead to yet another drought which would be worse. A rather worrisome state of affairs.

  9. Hi Pam
    Pleasing to see your summer flower images in this dark winter time. Sometimes I go back through my own garden pictures just to remind myself how things are in the warm seasons... Yes the weather has become some kind of surprise package, and no one notices more than gardeners. Fortunately, we are resourceful!

  10. Hi Pam
    I love the signature plants you have collected. Your garden would be beautiful if you ever did have to redo it. Here in Christchurch NZ we are having a really good summer - warm and hot days followed by a few cooler ones with rain and then back to the warm again. I certainly can't complain to the weather gods this year. Hope all is well in your garden under the snow!

  11. Pam we are having a regular winter although our thaw was warm for a couple of days..back to some snow and cold. The long warmer fall though has my snowdrops blooming a bit in one area which is so unusual. We shall see...I love your dozen and seeing your there a way you would consider putting an email widget up on your blog so I can get your posts in my email...with my schedule I rarely get to my readers these days...I just don't want to miss your posts my friend! :)

  12. Pam, 2012 gave us a mild Winter also and Spring started of beautifully, went all downhill after that. Great pictures and selection for dozen for Diana.

  13. Lovely post, Pam. I had to click on that first picture to enlarge... I could see green on the branches and was quite curious. Everyone should do that... it revealed a mystical and magical scene... moss, I suppose, but the sum total of all was enchanting.

  14. Yes, the weather sure has been wacky! I am hoping for a mild spring with plenty of rain, and that summer's heat doesn't take over too soon. One of these years, that could happen!

    How cool that you are participating in that project! I don't know if I am organized or observant enough to make notes of everything you'd need to. I think I will try to pay more attention, though.